Encouragement From The Word

Things are not always as they appear

Last week, I ordered a feather-style flag sign for our church, something that could be used to catch people’s attention and welcome them to our gatherings.  I made the design myself, but paid for a bit of help to make it into the shape of the flag.  That all worked well, and the flag and pole arrived yesterday – about a week sooner than promised.  Everything was working out well.

I put the pole together (with big help from our office administrator, who managed to be able to get two pieces attached that I wasn’t able to do, no matter how I tried), and then unfolded the flag and fed it onto the pole.  I stood it up in front of me, and took a look.

I wasn’t happy.

If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see a lot of pixellation – places where the letters look decidedly jagged.  That’s not what my prototype looked like.

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I called the company that made it, and their representative was very apologetic and agreed to remake the flag and send it as quickly as possible.  From a business standpoint, they handled the matter well.

It would have been easy to overlook this, though; after all, if you stand back even 10 feet from the flag (or 5 for me, if I take off my glasses), the pixellation disappears.  Everything looks smooth, perfect.

But up close, it’s obvious that not everything is smooth or perfect.

The old saying reminds us that sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees.  And it’s good to see the forest.  But there are times when we need to pay attention to the trees.

The big picture matters, but so do the details.  Most of us are hard-wired with preferences for one or the other, but it can be of great value to prefer both.  I want our flag to look great for the people driving toward the church on the road, but I also want it to look great for the people walking past on the sidewalk.

When we are making decisions, discerning God’s will for our lives, we need to take a step back, and we also need to take a step forward.  It’s wise to examine all aspects of what we may decide to do, because a decision can have a significant impact on ourselves, our families, our church communities, and even our world.

Details matter.  A pixellated life, a pixellated church, a pixellated theology – these are not what God wants for us.  Step forward, and step back, in whatever your discernment process may be.

People may be pure in their own eyes,
    but the Lord examines their motives” (Proverbs 16.2, NLT).

Biblical Messages

An Understanding Heart

King Solomon could have anything he wanted from anybody.  But when God asked him in a dream for anything he wanted, he said he wanted “an understanding heart” – a heart to listen, to hear – so he could lead the people of Israel wisely.  God was pleased with this request, and granted it.  And Solomon got to use it in judging a dispute between two prostitutes, one of whom had a baby die and switched it with another’s baby.

This message is based on 1 Kings 3, and you can listen here: